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Liar and Spyby Rebecca Stead
In Rebecca Stead's follow-up to her 2010 Newbery Medal winner When You Reach Me, Liar and Spy introduces us to Georges (pronounced George), a seventh grader who has just moved into a brand-new Brooklyn apartment and meets Safer, a 12-year-old self-appointed spy. The quirky story and super-precocious characters make this a quick but fun read. A slightly dark bamboozle happens at the end.
For a book this small, it definitely packed a punch with an endearing story brimming with humor, charm, wit, and much heartiness. Through the eyes of a lovable seventh-grade boy named Georges, there are plenty of ups and downs growing up and surviving the confusing age that is adolescence. But Georges lets us know that being different can actually be wonderful in all its gawky, blundering glory. Life, seventh grader or not, will be rough, but as long as you remain true to yourself and accepting of others, everything will be okay.
Synopses & Reviews
When seventh grader Georges (the S is silent) moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer's first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to go for your only friend?
Liar and Spy is an inspired, often-funny story about destiny, goofy brilliance, and courage. Like Stead's Newbery Medal-winning When You Reach Me, it will keep readers guessing until the end.
"Seventh grade is not going well for Georges, the only child of an out-of-work Brooklyn architect and a nurse who named him after her favorite painter, pointillist Georges Seurat. Although Georges's mother has taken on double shifts to bring in extra income, the family has had to sell their house and move into an apartment. At school, former best friend Jason, who has started dressing like the skateboarder he isn't, now stands idly by while bullies harass Georges. Newbery Medalist Stead (When You Reach Me) expertly balances Georges's blue period with the introduction of the new neighbors: amateur spy Safer, and his younger sister, Candy, whose parents (in one of many hilarious details) let the kids name themselves. As homeschooled siblings, they offer refreshing perspectives on the ridiculousness of what goes on at Georges's school, including a forthcoming science unit on taste buds that the kids believe forecasts one's destiny. Safer recruits Georges to investigate and observe — using the lobbycam to track a mysterious tenant and binoculars to monitor a nest of wild green parrots — but the biggest secrets are the ones these two sensitive boys have buried in their hearts. Stead has a talent for introducing curriculum-ready topics in the most accessible ways imaginable, e.g., Seurat's painting methods become a persuasive metaphor for what Georges is going through and how he can survive it. Chock-full of fascinating characters and intelligent questions, this is as close to perfect as middle-grade novels come. Ages 9 – 12. Agent: Faye Bender, Faye Bender Literary Agency. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"[A] big-hearted, delightfully quirky tale....Georges resolves his various issues in a way that's both ingenious and organic to the story....Original and winning" Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
"Readers will sympathize with Georges and Safer as they negotiate various familiar obstacles, but it's the celebration that will leave them exultant." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Starred Review
"The ending twists readers' entire perception of the events and creates a brilliant conclusion to an insightful novel." School Library Journal, Starred Review
"Stead's spare and elegant prose, compassionate insight into the lives of young people, wry sense of humor, deft plotting, and ability to present complex ideas in an accessible and intriguing way make this much more than a mystery with a twist." The Horn Book, Starred Review
The instant New York Times bestseller from the author of the Newbery Medal book When You Reach Me: a story about spies, games, and friendship. Seventh grader Georges moves into a Brooklyn apartment building and meets Safer, a twelve-year-old self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer's first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: what is a lie, and what is a game? How far is too far to go for your only friend? Like the dazzling When You Reach Me, Liar and Spy will keep readers guessing until the end.
At the moment, Georges has a lot going on. Dad was laid off so Mom has started working extra shifts at the hospital, and they had to sell their house in Brooklyn and move into an apartment. One good thing about the new building is Safer, an unusual boy who lives on the top floor. He's determined to teach Georges how to be a spy. Their main case: spy on the mysterious Mr. X in the apartment above Georges. As Georges and Safer go deeper into their Mr. X plan, the line between games, lies, and reality begin to blur.
About the Author
Rebecca Stead is the author of First Light and the Newbery Medal winner When You Reach Me. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.
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